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04 July, 2020
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Nicosia plays down Russian tourist airport incident

Cyprus vows to look into allegations that a Russian woman was treated unfairly by immigration officers


Nicosia is playing down reports over detentions of Russian nationals at the airport who say they plan to visit the northern part of the island, vowing to look into a specific airport incident while giving assurances that the overall crossing experiences are positive.

A foreign ministry official, who was asked to comment on recent statements made by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, told the Cyprus News Agency that authorities were looking into a particular incident of a Russian national who reported she was being harassed at Larnaca International Airport by customs officials.

“It would be unfair to distort the overall absolutely positive image regarding the treatment and hospitality which Russian visitors enjoy from the moment they arrive in Cyprus until the moment they leave the island,” the source told CNA.

Last week Zakharova told TASS news agency that Moscow’s embassy in Nicosia would be requesting authorities in Cyprus to provide official information regarding detentions of Russian nationals who attempt to cross into the north or declare their intention of doing so.

'We urged the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus to officially publish migration requirements on the websites of its consular missions in Russia'

The statements came following a growing number of complaints by Russian visitors who told their Embassy there were “tighter requirements” for documents asked to be shown at the checkpoints or during airport inspections at the Point of Entry. 

But no complaint had been registered from a Russian woman, whose name was referenced during a Q&A at a briefing by Zakharova, with the spokeswoman saying the issue could be taken up with Cypriot authorities.

Zakharova added that her government was requesting from the Republic of Cyprus clear and concise information regarding documentary evidence that may be asked during inspection at an airport or checkpoint.

Knews understands that media sources last week picked up on an unofficial complaint by a Russian woman, with initials I.S., who might have been asked to show documents unbeknownst to her that they had to be provided. On her social media, she also reportedly said she was being yelled at and mocked by male officers.

"We urged the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus to officially publish migration requirements on the websites of its consular missions in Russia," Zakharova told TASS.

Republic of Cyprus airpot customs officers drew criticism over recent months but also on a number of occasions in the last few years, where Russian and other foreign nationals were prevented and even turned away on the basis they might violate laws by crossing into the north. In many cases, no written explanation had been given but sources said the travellers were advised to go back on the next flight in order to avoid breaking the law.

No official policy exists that bars lawful foreign visitors in the Republic from also visiting the north, however internal policy guidance has often been quoted in giving officers a wide range of discretion during inspections when they suspect individuals might break the law.

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